Tuesday, 31 August 2010

An amazing weekend

Yet another very busy week; sadly, not out as much as I had hoped, as I suffered a recurrence of the allergic reaction (with now no idea of what could have caused it - I had avoided all the things which I had believed to be the triggers before...) - fortunately, this time, I recognised what was happening much sooner, and was able to get enough antihistamines inside of me to stop me turning into a Star Trek extra again (it would have been good timing, with the National NZ SF Convention this weekend...!) Sadly, though, it meant that I couldn't go to TKD - I didn't want to scare the children!

Fortunately, as I'd been able to "quiet" the reaction, I was able to head to hockey on Thursday, which was very important, as, despite my doom and gloom in my last post, we did actually make it through to the semi-finals, on goal difference. (a very good ego boos as a goalie!) We had a really good practice, with a good turnout, which was excellent for team morale. Sadly, the semi finals were our last match, as we got knocked out 2-1. But give that we were one stage further along than we had originally thought, and we were without a number of key players (including yours truly...), we did very well!

I wasn't at the hockey match because it was the weekend of the orchestra workshop. The weeks of preparation for Shostakovich 5 were all aiming towards three very intensive days of playing and socialising with musicians from all over the country.

We started on the Friday night, and I had the immensely satisfying experience of walking across Wellington's Central Business District (about 20 mins) to the pub that I'd 'nominated' for my supper (by virtue of having a 20% off voucher) without having to do more than a cursory glance at a map at the beginning of the route. This may not sound like a big deal, but for anyone who has seen me go into a shop and then turn the wrong way when I come out, it is a fairly fundamental feat of navigation. And I only needed to check the map for getting from dinner to the school where we were playing at the final stages. It is such a great feeling, knowing that the city is starting to 'click' - I'm nowhere near 100%, even in the small CBD, particularly when people navigate me by shop names, but I am getting there.

The first evening was a play through of the whole symphony - whilst our orchestra has been rehearsing in preparation, for a number of the musicians, this was their first chance to see the music, so it was a sight reading rehearsal for a lot of them.

Saturday was rehearsing in earnest - after an initial play through, we split off into our instrumental sections, and had a morning's tuition from musicians from the NZ Symphony Orchestra. This was a fantastic experience - just to be able to chat with someone who plays the oboe for a living, get hints and tips from her, and to learn that even professional players struggle with some of the nastier passages, was worth the workshop fee! We then merged the oboe and bassoon groups into a double reed workshop, and in the final sectional session, we merged all of the woodwind section. This let us build up the woodwind parts of the whole symphony, and really gave me an in depth understanding of the music before we rejoined the rest of the orchestra for a final play through of the day. And the difference between the morning and afternoon "Tutti" rehearsal was astounding - it was difficult to believe that just one day would make that much difference to the sound we were making. It felt like we were 'concert ready' at that point, and the rest of the rehearsals would just be icing on the cake.

The evening was spent with a social event; a quiz, food, and lots of laughter - really good fun.

Sunday was another intensive morning and half afternoon of rehearsals as a full orchestra, ready for playing the finished work to friends and family mid-afternoon. The final concert went really well, after a slightly shaky start (we had a few counting issues, probably a result of a weekend of intense concentration!). The music just flowed so well, and, even as a performer, it took my breath away. The third movement, the Largo, is believed by some to be a requiem for those who died under Stalin's regime, and the mournful theme which recurs throughout (starting off in one of the most haunting oboe solos - next time we play this, I want to have a go!!) really brought that idea home to me. The ending of the movement, where the theme is picked up by the harps and the celeste, actually brought tears to my eyes!

Overall, the whole experience was mind blowing - extremely exhausting, but such an incredible learning curve, and such fun! I can't wait for next year...

After the concert, I headed back into Wellington, as John, who had elected to go to the Science Fiction convention instead, had let me know that a group of them were planning to go out for a curry for supper, and did I want to join them? Not being one to turn down an invitation like that, I met up with them all at the convention hotel, and we had a great meal at the Balti House, which served up one of the best peshawari naan breads I have ever eaten! After the meal, I snuck in to the final two events at the convention, the presentation of the Sir Julius (thank you John...) Vogel awards (the NZ Sci-Fi and Fantasy awards), which was great fun (and we knew four of the winners), and the closing ceremony.

This week is already shaping up to be busy - work is as manic as ever, John and I have a wonderful way of celebrating our third wedding anniversary on Wednesday; we have managed to wangle our way onto a chocolate testing survey at our local Butler's - we have an hour and a half to do taste testing and give our opinions, *and* we get paid for it! No hockey on Thursday, but I'm out on Friday at a colleague's leaving do.

Then, gloriously, I have a week off - with Spring already here (there is yellow pollen along the edges of the pavements, the daffodils have been out since the weekend, and a large number of bushes have flowered already), I want to have a good go at the greenhouse and get seeds in. I probably won't do broccoli again this year; whilst it has been lovely to be able to eat fresh broccoli most weeks, the plant does take up rather a lot of space in the greenhouse! I think I will be buying my seeds based on the plants not trying to take over when my back is turned!


John Toon said...

Oho, there'll be knuckle-rappings if anyone catches you calling them "the Vogel Awards"! They're quite emphatically the *Sir Julius* Vogel Awards, not at all to be confused with the Vogel Award given in Australia for unpublished manuscripts.

Strabec said...

Take my advice and don't buy courgettes! They are related to the triffid and will threaten to take over the whole garden. On the other hand, they are easy to grow though, and you only need a couple of plants to get a continuous crop.

Jo said...

Thank you, John - I've corrected the post :-) Hadn't even realised that there was another set of awards with the same/similar name!

Strabec - I've planted courgettes before (when I had the allotment) - they are great plants, but they do spread amazingly!